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by Mike Lipske 

Commissioned In 

Design Arts Program 

National Endowment for the \ii- 

Published 1»\ 
Publishing < lentei 

• Resoun 
N<\> York 


This book was commissioned 
by the Design Arts Program of 
the National Endowment for 
the Arts. 

Frank S. M. Hodsoll, Chairman 
National Endowment for the Arts 

Adele Chatfield-Taylor, Director 
Design Arts Program 

Charles Zucker, Deputy Director 
Design Arts Program 

Project Director/Editor: Marcia Sartwell 

Designer: Miho 

Photo Editor: Eileen Levitan 

Copyright© 1985 Publishing Center for 
Cultural Resources. All rights reserved. 

Library of Congress 

Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Lipske, Mike. 

Places as art. 

"Commissioned by Design Arts Program National 

Endowment for the Arts." 

Bibliography: p.92 

1. Urban beautification — United States. 

2. Architecture — Environmental aspects — United Slates. 

3. Architecture — United States — Psychological aspects. 
I. National Endowment for the Arts. Design Arts 
Program. II. Title. 

NA9052.L56 1985 711'. 4 85-19147 

ISBN 0-89062-210-8 

ISBN 0-89062-21 1-6 (pbk.) 

Distributed by: 

Publishing Center for Cultural Resources 

625 Broadway 

New York, N.Y. 10012 

Author's Acknowledgements 

Many persons shared time and 
knowledge without which this 
book could not have been 
written. Special thanks go to 
Charles Zucker, deputy 
director of the Design Arts 
Program, National 
Endowment for the Arts, who 
provided the idea and the plan 
for Places as Art . I also thank 
Marcia Sartwell, publications 
director, Design Arts 
Program, for steady editorial 
guidance; Thomas Walton, 
associate professor in the 
Department of Architecture, 
Catholic University of 
America, for assisting with 
research; and Cecilia I. Parker, 
for knowing the pitfalls 
peculiar to book-making and 
for suggesting ways around them. 



Places can be works of art; 
making them so requires that 
urban form become a public, 
aesthetic issue. 


Six case studies of private 
and public attempts to 
advance the cause of design 


A portfolio of American 
places as art, from 
Rockefeller Center to the 
<l iff dwellings of Mesa 




The term "places as art" 
challenges us to look at our 
environment — and at art — in 
a new way. Usually we think of 
art as an object — something 
that hangs in a gallery — or as 
an event that takes place on a 
stage. Yet places can be works 
of art, too. They can satisfy 
our desire for beauty, stir our 
deepest feelings, link us to our 

The concept of Places as Art 
gives us, in a sense, a new art 
form. It is made up in part of 
other art forms — sculpture, 
gardens, open space, 
buildings old and new, the 
decorative arts; it depends for 
its validity on the perception 
that the aesthetic whole is 
greater than the sum of its 
parts and that the beauty of 
the unity is the essence of its 
interest and importance. 

The idea, of course, is not 
really new; history abounds in 
examples. To take just two: 
The Piazza Campidoglio in 
Rome was designed by 
Michelangelo to incorporate 
existing buildings, the great 
statue of Marcus Aurelius, 
churches, steps, footpaths, 
and so on. One could not 
categorize the activity that 
created the piazza as 
architecture, urban design, 
historic preservation, city 
planning, or set design, 
because it is all those things. 

Yet it is more than the sum of 
all those things. Disparate 
elements have been drawn 
into a harmonious whole and 
lifted to a new level of beauty 
and meaning. 

The Lawn at the University of 
Virginia is another example, 
this one closer to home, and, 
to a greater extent, conceived 
at one time. Jefferson's plan 
has as its centerpiece a 
rotunda, which is flanked by 
colonnades and by pavilions, 
five on each side. Behind the 
pavilions are living quarters, 
gardens, and serpentine walls. 
Here is a combination of 
architecture, urban design, 
and landscaping. Its place as 
one of the world's great 
conceptions derives not from 
any one aspect or building but 
from the order and purpose 
that underlie the whole. 

Sometimes, of course, places 
acquire aesthetic significance 
that has more to do with the 
passage of time than with 
design per se. Over the years 
they take on new meaning as 
landmarks, or as vessels that 
hold our memories. The 
changes that accrue over the 
centuries can create, quite by 
accident, an interrelationship 
of buildings and landscape 
that is precisely right — a 
place that is art. Such a place, 
for example, is the Tiber 
Island in Rome, a 
conglomeration of significant 

and insignificant buildings 
that over time has become an 
irreducible aesthetic entity. 
For the most part, though, 
building Places as Art 
requires conscious purpose, 
vision, and the means to 
realize that vision. 

In past civilizations, the rich 
and powerful could create 
great places more or less by 
decree; consider, for example, 
how Florence's Piazza della 
Signoria was shaped by the 
purpose and vision of the 

But in out time, and in our 
democracy, if we are to have 
more places that are works of 
art, we must have an informed 
and interested citizenry that 
understands the value of art as 
well as the processes that 
encourage its creation. 

Great art — whether a painting 
or a plaza — cannot be forced, 
but it can be fostered. In 
twentieth-century America, 
Places as Art are most likely 
to come into being when a 
community believes, first of 
all. that aesthetic values are 
worth pursuing; and, second, 
that it is through art that a 
community best expresses its 
ideals and aspirations. When 
such a community articulates 
the vision it has of itself, when 
it has clear intentions and an 
understanding of good design, 
then wonderful things may 

The idea of Places as Art has 
nothing to do with a particular 
style. It has, on the other 
hand, a great deal to do 
with "process" — with the 
way different communities 
manage to make design 
excellence as issue whenever 
they build new places or save 
old ones. 

There is no single process for 
creating Places as Art. That is 
why this book identifies 
several paths — ways that 
individuals, associations, 
institutions, and governments 
have gone about getting the 
subject of urban aesthetics 
before the community. 

Not every one of those 
attempts to create Places as 
Art will strike every citizen or 
student of design as suitable 
or satisfactory. Perceptions 
and resources differ. Yet, it 
seems to me, any good-faith 
attempt to make a place 
beautiful and whole is a step 
in the right direction. 

During much of the twentieth 
century, we have seen the 
fragmenting of the arts — the 
break-up of art forms into 
smaller pieces, each aimed at 
addressing the special needs 
of smaller audiences. But in 
the last twenty years, there 
have been aesthetic 
movements that call for the 
eye and the mind to integrate 
the whole. Places as Art is one 
of these movements, calling 

for a new awareness of 
coherence and unity in the 
arts, especially the arts that 
make up our environment. 

It is our hope that this book 
will spur that movement 
forward, stimulating the 
creation and celebration of 
new Places as Art and the 
burnishing and expansion of 
existing ones— activities that 
will greatly enhance the 
American landscape and 
engage the American spirit. 

Adele Chatfield-Taylor 
August 1985 

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hen Lord Brabazon asked members of 
the House of Lords to censure London construction 
work in 1962 — expressing his dismay over "the recent 
erection of buildings of a skyscraper type in the 
Metropolis from the aesthetic and aeronautical point of 
view" — his complaint was an early trickle in what has 
become a river of criticism. 

Not everyone condemns skyscrapers, of course. But 
there is abundant evidence, in newspaper and maga- 
zine articles, in books, in symposiums and panel dis- 
cussions, in conversations half-heard above the din of 
construction downtown, that more and more people are 
unhappy with the form and feel of their cities. 

The dissatisfaction with urban design and architecture 
goes beyond the usual complaints about speculative 
over-construction of office space, about projects that 
come in over budget and late, or about the sort of logical 
lapse that results in a commuter town's newest office 
tower being built without a parking lot. Our displeasure 
centers on something less palpable — the lack of Bra- 
bazon's "aesthetic . . . point of view." Call it the acute 
shortage of built beauty. 

"If we don't demand good architecture, we don't deserve 
it, and we won't get it," growled Robert Campbell, 
architecture critic for the Boston Globe, when he 
recently inaugurated annual awards for "the most awful 
buildings" in Boston. Testing the curative power of 
shame (not just for architects, but also for clients, gov- 
ernment officials, and citizens who foster or accept bad 
design), Campbell proposed prizes for a "forbidding 
gray fortress" masquerading as a shopping/hotel com- 
plex, for "an upended radiator" of a high-rise that 
"offers not the least hint that its purposes include 
human habitation," and for five more of Boston's "ugli- 
est and most life-degrading buildings of the year." 

Campbell's stab at negative reinforcement is only one 
example of recent criticism of the designed environ- 
ment. Ronald Lee Fleming and Renata von Tscharner, 
of the Townscape Institute in Cambridge, Massachu- 

towers crowd Manhattan's 
■e. "It is as beautiful a land as 
can hope to tread upon," said 
ry Hudson. A trading post from 
start, New Amsterdam gave 
to the agglomeration of 
lent, steel, and glass that 
;es for our most architecturally 
ndable island. 

2 city is a fact in 
lure, like a cave, a run 
mackerel or an ant- 
ap. But it is also a con- 
ous work of art. . . The 
ne and the spire, the 
?/? avenue and the 
)sed court, tell the 
\ry, not merely of differ- 
f physical accommoda- 
ns, but of essentially 
ferent conceptions of 
n's destiny. . . With Ian- 
zge itself [the city] 
wains man's greatest 

vis Mumford, The Culture of Cities 

setts, write of the "banal sameness" that "haunts the 
old commercial strip on the road to the airport as well as 
the sparkling new development downtown." Another 
observer speaks of "windswept . . . American plazas" 
as "our cities' equivalent to the strip mine, desperately 
in need of reclamation." Another decries the rise of 
"marketecture" — office towers designed solely for 
commercial appeal, in the manner of candy bars and 
new cars. 

"There is almost no one who is not bewildered by the 
events of the last two decades in architecture," wrote 
Paul Goldberger, of the New York Times, in a 1981 
review of what he called "the hottest topic in Manhat- 
tan's architectural salons," Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus 
To Our House . Readers of Wolfe's attack on minimalist 
excess, in the form of International Style architecture, 
could be found well beyond Manhattan's salons. Four- 
teen weeks on the Times best-seller list and a Book of 
the Month Club selection, Bauhaus — with 130,000 
copies sold in hardcover — may still stand as the ulti- 
mate evidence of public dismay over contemporary 
architecture. Probably not every reader yearned for 
buildings that, as Wolfe wrote, "catered to the Hog- 
stomping Baroque exuberance of American civiliza- 
tion." But one may assume many felt short-changed, 
even betrayed, by the places they saw as they traveled 
about their town or city. One did not have to be a British 
Lord to sense that buildings had become less breath- 
taking, that from the square top of the newest high-rise 
to the barren slab at its base something critical was 
lacking, that the city center seemed as formula-built as 
the temples of fast food on the interstate, that the mall 
at the north end of town replicated the one at the south. 
One did not have to be a Brabazon to know that places 
can be art. 

We are accustomed to thinking of art as an object that 
hangs in a gallery or sits in a plaza. We also think of art 
as an event — a concert or opera or play. But.places can 
be works of art. An Italian piazza or a New England vil- 
lage green each has the capacity to quicken our senses, 
stir our emotions, and convey aesthetic integrity. Each 


links us to the people who created it. Each holds our 

Buildings — the best of them — are more than shelter. 
An old structure, whether courthouse or counting- 
house, becomes a stone vessel of civic culture. A new 
building, born of a high-stakes design competition and 
still as crisp as the architect's drawings, can fire imagi- 
nations and focus a young city's vision of its place in 
events to come. 

"The urban landscape, among its many roles, is also 
something to be seen, to be remembered, and to delight 
in," planner and educator Kevin Lynch wrote in The 
Image of the City. "As an artificial world, the city 
should be so in the best sense: made by art, shaped for 
human purposes." 

Shaped with grace and well-crafted, the city is stage 
and backdrop for our daily urban drama. Yet too often 
we sense that the set is ill-proportioned, the lighting 
unfocused, the play poorly written. We might leave — 
mayor or man on the street — if we did not suspect we 
were members of the cast and not just the audience. We 
know the shopping mall is not a village green, that the 
library plaza with its concrete benches is no Piazza San 
Marco, that Brutalist buildings are too aptly named. We 
know we can churn out office towers almost as effort- 
lessly as we can fried-chicken stands, but must they 
look so . . . churned out? 

Pieces of the public realm: Brick 
buildings of restored Bulfinch 
Square (top), in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, were to be 
demolished to make way for a 
parking garage. Space sized to 
human scale distinguishes greens 
of South Royalton and Weston, 
Vermont, (middle) and old New 
Canaan, Connecticut. 

Why is it that, as the Globe's Robert Campbell says, 
"The places we value and love so much . . . have 
almost never been created in our own time"? The 
answer, he suggests, has little to do with nostalgia. "It 
has to do with the things that make a city, any city in any 
period, livable for human beings. It has to do, above 
all, with creating a humane public realm . . . We can 
often make good buildings today, but seldom good pub- 
lic realms. When we think of great cities we think first 
of their great public streets .... But where in our 
time have we created a single great street?" 

New Canaan 

Wtyit is tfje cttp but tfje people? 

William Shakespeare, Coriolanus 


Ours is a quantifying age. The concept of places as art 
is, on the other hand, not something that can be mea- 
sured off in square feet or calculated as a percentage of 
the municipal budget. As real as the Statue of Liberty, 
the "art" in "place" remains as intangible as your mem- 
ory of Manhattan at a precise moment after dusk. 

Art — a welded-steel abstraction — may not render a 
plaza a "place as art." However, function — a Seattle 
manhole cover embellished with an artist's design of a 
whale — may make of a streetcorner a "place." 

In a recent catalog of books on planning, there were 
advertisements for reports and texts on the use of 
microcomputers, on sign control, on economic devel- 
opment, on zoning, on how to be an expert witness. 
There were, and are, no manuals on creating places as 
art. Yet the idea is old, as old as hills with classical tem- 
ples on their summits. 

Genius loci — spirit of place — is the ancient concept 
that most closely suggests the meaning of, and means of 
creating, places as art. In Bellows Falls, Vermont, a 
row of nineteenth-century storefronts — with facades 
restored and signs improved by young businessmen — 
could draw warm applause from the deities that the 
Romans said were guardians of every special place. In 
Miami, with its breezier gods, spirit of place might be 
better expressed by a condominium with a large hole in 
its middle, as well as by the palm tree and whirlpool 
bath nestled within the twelth-floor skycourt. ("Beach 
Blanket Bauhaus," is how Patricia Leigh Brown, in 
Esquire, described the work of Arquitectonica, the 
Florida firm that designed the condominium and other 
new buildings that "fit the city snugly, like some way- 
ward architectural bikini.") In Santa Fe, New Mexico, 
an "adobe" house — with stucco and paint over cinder- 
block walls — constitutes an acceptable offering to art, 
tradition, and the forms of Pueblo Spanish Revival 
Style. In Escondido, California, a growing community 
in search of its public image, plans for a new civic/cul- 
tural center, developed through a recent architectural 
design competition, represent now-and-future genius 
loci, for "places as art" can say not only what we are but 
what we hope to become. 


A brass band marches down 
Bourbon Street, giving voice to the 
spirit of New Orleans 

Eight apartments share the 
skycourt at the Atlantis, a 20-story 
condominium at the edge of 
Biscayne Bay in Miami. 

"Beach Blanket Bauhaus": 
Buildings like the Atlantis, by 
Arquitectonica, express spirit of 
place, as do the adobe apartments 
of Taos Pueblo, in and northern 
New Mexico. Below, in downtown 
Seattle, a manhole cover puts art 

The concept of places as art is an acknowledgement 
that color, form, texture, balance, and composition 
merit equal consideration with the economic and social 
demands that guide planning and development. New 
places as art are created, and old ones saved, when 
leaders recognize and articulate the vision of self 
shared by a community, and when they foster coopera- 
tion among the hundreds of place-markers that trans- 
form the city daily. Thus the concept travels with 
questions: How does one give voice and, ultimately, 
substance to the intangible? How does one popularize 
the notion that the form of the urban environment is, 
among other things, an artistic issue? 

One can try summoning expert testimony. "Architec- 
ture," said the English critic John Ruskin, "is the art 
which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by 
man, that the sight of them may contribute to his mental 
health, power, and pleasure." What Kevin Lynch called 
"a distinctive and legible environment" may be a balm 
for urban anxiety and, at the same time, "heightens the 
potential depth and intensity of human experience." 

However, if an expert student of the city such as Lynch 
knew that vivid urban settings were more than luxury, 
he also knew how difficult it can be to chart a course 
toward improvement. No single artist creates a place as 
art, for the city, wrote Lynch, "is the product of many 
builders who are constantly modifying the structure for 
reasons of their own," and "only partial control can be 
exercised over its growth and form." 

In the crash and din of urban development, arguments 
for beautiful buildings that rise from harmonious set- 
tings may go barely heard. Mistaking price for value, 
people may say that truly great design is simply too 
expensive. Yet the scale of the budget and the scope of 
return on investment must be measured against poten- 
tial long-term gains. 

No matter how monumental the initial cost of a new 
building, or of any development project, that sum may 
represent less than half of eventual costs. Be it a high- 
rise, a shopping center, or a downtown park, the com- 
pleted project must be operated and maintained, and 
such costs are influenced by the quality of design. The 

Now suited to Steinways, Bulfinch 
Square was restored by Graham 
Gund Associates. The complex 
bears the name of the Boston-born 
architect of Faneuil Hall and the 
Massachusetts State House. 

useful life of a building, its attractiveness in the local or 
national marketplace, its responsiveness to present 
and future management plans, its ability to foster 
employee productivity — each needs to be considered 
along with today's design and construction expenses. 

Beautiful places attract tourists and, of course, tourist 
dollars. However, the well-conceived city may also 
draw new business in the form of corporations seeking a 
rewarding environment for workers. The city govern- 
ment that fosters great public architecture also sets the 
tone for better private architecture. (Call it inspired 
leadership or peer pressure, the effect is the same: 
quality begets quality.) And, while good design is not 
the cure for every urban ill, the city that is legible as 
opposed to chaotic, that rewards the senses rather than 
insults them, also heightens community pride and 
spirit. In New York, our capital of graffiti, consider the 
eight-foot, fiberglass pear that hangs at street level out- 
side a Grand Union supermarket on East 86th Street. 
Designed by Milton Glaser, the pear "is voluptuous, 
sensual; the color a soothing pale green," reports 
Smithsonian magazine. Furthermore, "the neighbor- 
hood has paid it the ultimate compliment: in more than 
two years [Glaser's] pear has never known the touch of a 
felt-tipped pen." 

Educating the eye, places as art spawn an aesthetically 
sensitized public, and all that that may bode for better 
design and development in years to come. Such places 
constitute the ultimate act of civility toward citizens 
grown cynical about the ruling deities, be they public 
or private. And such places are being created in Ameri- 
can cities. Officials and developers, architects and art- 
ists are finding the means to breathe substance into an 
aesthetic concept. They are saying places as art matter, 
and are laying their convictions on foundations of 

A giant, pale-green pear soothes 
the eyes of passersby at a New 
York supermarket. Below, the glass 
and cast-iron pergola in Seattle's 
Pioneer Square, formerly a trolley 
waiting stand, was restored with 
private funds. 

1 j. 




■"^55» ^B^r 




lund Rome a city of bricks and 
t it a city of marble. 

istus Caesar 

i Marco on the Hudson.' the 
a at the World Financial Center. 
;w York's Battery Park City 
slopment, will be the first major 
ic square on the river. The 
3-and-a-half-acre space, with 
1 of the Statue of Liberty, was 
gned by artists, an architect, 
a landscape architect. 

"It's going to be a fabulous, wonderful place," says 
Victor Ganz. "It could be an American, latter-day San 
Marco." Ganz, an art collector and retired businessman 
who is chairman of the fine arts committee for New 
York's Battery Park City development, is talking about 
a San Marco on the Hudson River, a three-and-a-half- 
acre public plaza, across from the Statue of Liberty, 
that has been jointly designed by an architect, artists, 
and a landscape architect. 

Scheduled for completion in 1988, the waterfront plaza 
is being called a keystone to Battery Park City, the mas- 
sive residential and commercial community being built 
on 92 acres of landfill at the tip of lower Manhattan. 
(When Battery Park City is fully developed, it is esti- 
mated that its working population will be 31,000 peo- 
ple, its residential population about 30,000. ) The plaza 
will serve as a link between the Hudson and the World 
Financial Center, the complex of office towers and 
glass-covered "wintergarden" that has been designed 
by architect Cesar Pelli. Surrounding a cove on the 
river and incorporating a section of Battery Park City's 
1.2-mile waterfront esplanade, the plaza — with its 
eight unified-but-distinct spaces — will accom- 
modate individuals, small groups, and large gather- 
ings. Intended as a major public amenity for all New 
Yorkers, the space was designed by Pelli, artists Siah 
Armajani and Scott Burton, and landscape architect 
M. Paul Friedberg. 

Reaction to the plaza design, at least in the pages of the 
New York Times, has gone beyond favorable.'There are 
fountains, steps, a walking path along the Hudson 
River, a lawn for plaving frisbee. There seems a place 
for every conceivable public desire, from meditating at 
the river to nailing down a business deal at lunch." 

"The plaza will function as both stage and auditorium," 
goes another account, "and when we walk across it we 
shall feel twice ourselves." 

"I didn't want us looking at so-called 'plunk art,' " says 
Victor Ganz. He credits the excellence of Battery Park's 
fine arts committee (members include art historians, an 

architect, a curator from the Whitney Museum, and 
other arts professionals), and the fact that the commit- 
tee was granted "a hell of a lot of autonomy" by the 
Battery Park City administration, with enabling the 
group to plot a redefinition of the roles of architect and 
artist in the design of public places. Of the plaza 
design, Ganz says, "I believe it represents the first 
example of an intensely close and frank collaboration 
among architect, artists, and landscape architect in the 
total development of a major urban space from its very 
beginning." Rather than embellish a plaza with art 
objects, Battery Park's developers, urged on by Ganz's 
committee, are creating a place as art, as well as a 
working addition to New York's public realm. 

Not every city will stage developments the size of 
Battery Park. But metropolitan weight is not a require- 
ment in the planning and creation of places as art. In 
Seattle, a city with a population around one-fourteenth 
that of New York's, local artists have worked, along 
with architects and engineers, on design teams for 
a number of public projects. The city's Viewland - 
Hoffman electrical substation, with an abstract mural 
along the back wall and a whirligig compound that dis- 
plays work by two Washington folk artists, was Seattle's 
first such project. Completed several years ago, 
Viewland - Hoffman has won awards for its design. Art- 
ists have gone on to collaborate with architects on other 
Seattle City Light substations. 

Not surprisingly, however, there were initial reserva- 
tions about the role of artists in designing public works. 
"City Light said, 'What are you people doing? What a 
strange idea. Is it appropriate to put artists to work on a 
substation?' " recalls Richard Andrews, then adminis- 
trator of the Seattle Arts Commission's Art in Public 
Places Program. 

Paid from city percent-for-art funds, Seattle artists have 
helped design police stations, parks, bridges, and 
sidewalks. Artist Jack Mackie, member of a design 
team developing a new look for a stretch of Seattle's 
Broadway Avenue, created Dancer's Series: Steps, 
bronze dance instructions inlaid in the pavement at 

Whirligigs made by folk artists Emil 
and Veva Gehrke were 
incorporated into the design of 
Viewland-Hoffman electrical 
substation in north Seattle. 

:e dance steps, by artist Jack 
le, teach the tango and 
>n a Seattle sidewalk. 

eight locations on Capitol Hill. Embellishing city side- 
walks with diagrams for foxtrots and rumbas is one way 
of enlivening what Andrews has called "the generally 
anonymous vacuum of American streetscapes." 

"The complete lack of surprise in American street- 
scapes is an awful failure," says Andrews, now director 
of the Visual Arts Program at the National Endowment 
for the Arts. "In many European cities, you walk 
around and are never sure what's going to be around the 
next corner. In American urban design, you always 
know what's around the corner." 

Creating an element of urban surprise takes a bit of 
planning. Not long ago, the Seattle Arts Commission 
hired an artist and a designer to prepare a study of 
existing and future possibilities for incorporating art 
into the city's downtown core. "In commissioning this 
study," Andrews wrote in the introduction to Artwork 
Network, "we make the assumption that artists have a 
fundamental place in city planning. As the downtown 
changes and as an increasing number of buildings are 
constructed in a style concerned more with filling zon- 
ing envelopes than with creating a cohesive urban land- 
scape, the role of art in the city takes on increased 

Seattle's Artwork Network study recommends sites for 
art, and for projects involving artists in design, 
throughout the city's "network of primary public 
places." Traffic islands, parks, alleys, proposed mono- 
rail stations, sidewalks scheduled for repair, even an 
unused drive-up book return at the Seattle Public 
Library are identified in the study as places to put art 
and places to become art. 

"There are no real guidelines for any of this yet — we're 
just making up procedures as we go along," Richard 
Andrews, in an interview in The New Yorker magazine, 
said of Seattle's efforts to inject artists into urban 
design. "A lot of city-owned space is in streets and 
sidewalks, you know, and triangles between streets — 
leftover spaces of all kinds. . . . We want to give artists 
an opportunity to shake up everybody's thinking, 
including their own." 

At a Minneapolis music shop 
customers know where to park. 


n Lynch, The Image of the 


The authors of Seattle's Artwork Network study observe 
"that the places which come to identify a city are often 
those preserved or developed by government. . . . 
Although some of the finest urban spaces in Seattle . . . 
have been privately developed, private interests tend to 
develop uses downtown that are too specialized to cap- 
ture any sense of the community's character." 

In the Boston Globe, critic Robert Campbell writes, 
"It's crazy to expect a variety of developers and archi- 
tects, each independently pursuing separate goals, to 
produce building that will magically aggregate into 
good streets and urban spaces .... They have to be 
given rules that will insure that each new building will 
do its part in creating the public realm." 

Builder and rulemaker, local government sets the tone 
for city form. In creating the public realm — whether a 
new city hall or a new sidewalk — government defines 
our expectations of urban design. Through its actions 
as well as its declarations, it can make informed design 
clients of citizens, creating a climate where the aes- 
thetic point of view in architecture and development is 
not merely appreciated, but anticipated. 

Other institutions in the community can also raise the 
issue of quality. The case studies in the next chapter 
provide examples of ways in which academia, the 
press, industry, professional societies, individuals, 
and government have created, critiqued, or simply 
cheered along potential places as art. A sampling of 
other means for improving urban design follows: 

♦ The Washington Monument and St. Louis' 
Gateway Arch, Boston's City Hall and the U.S. Capitol, 
the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House have one 
thing in common. Each is a product of design competi- 
tions, an old and reliable method of fostering architec- 
tural excellence. Design competitions can help 

! street lamp and 
;stone pavement keep 
nporary Seattle in touch with 


Where the soaring starts: At the 
Gateway Arch in St. Louis, two 
young visitors inspect the 
foundation of our tallest monument 

great city is that which has the greatest men 
d women. 

t W hitman. Song of the Broad-Axe 

1 whirl: New Yorkers have 
j in Rockefeller Center's 
m plaza, off Fifth Avenue, 
Christmas Day in 1936 

Names of the dead and missing are 
inscribed on the granite wall of the 
Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in 
Washington, D.C. A nationwide 
competition for the best memorial 
design drew more than 1 ,400 

crystallize a community's vision of itself, let lesser- 
known talent compete with established professionals, 
even boost a capital fund-raising drive. Types of com- 
petitions range from "open," to "invited," to "on-site 
charettes." Advice on choosing the best style of compe- 
tition and on how to manage one successfully can be 
obtained from local and state design societies, state 
arts councils, and the National Endowment for the 

Some county and state governments have found it 
helpful to publish design manuals or policies that set 
standards for public architecture. A Kansas state 
design manual, for example, defines architectural aes- 
thetics as "the interplay of planes; the proportions of 
height, width, and length; the combination of contrast 
and continuity; and the use of materials . . . [to] create 
beauty and enhance the purpose and presence of a 
structure." Final design of state projects, declares the 
manual, "should be exemplary to others in the [archi- 
tectural] profession and be worthy of representation of 
the state of Kansas." 

A City review boards and arts commissions can 
function as design watchdogs, with local architects and 
other appointed citizens studying development pro- 
posals and, when necessary, seeking modifications in 
design. In Baltimore, the city's design advisory panel, 
composed of architects, landscape architects, and 
architectural historians, meets regularly to review pub- 
licly funded projects. The Seattle Arts Commission, 
whose membership includes artists, engineers, archi- 
tects, and urban planners, performs a similar role, 
advising city government on the design of capital 
improvement projects. In Kansas City, Missouri, the 
municipal arts commission has been called that city's 
"aesthetic conscience." Its members review and 
approve plans for public projects, and examine ele- 
ments of private development (from lighting to land- 
scaping) that impinge on the public realm. 

H Cities without a review board can address the 
subject of urban design in other ways. In early 1984, 
Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard established an ad hoc- 
advisory committee on the arts to help "change the face 

Man fights bull in a tile mural at the 
Plaza shopping center, in Kansas 
City, Missouri. Below, new National 
Aquarium hoists sail in Baltimore's 
Inner Harbor. 

of Phoenix in the next five years by substantially 
improving the 'look' of the City and the cultural quality 
of life in the City." The 26-member committee was 
expected to investigate the desirability of a city arts 
commission and of adopting legislation to set aside a 
percentage of municipal construction funds for the 
"artistic enrichment of the City." The committee was 
also asked to study "various possibilities of City beauti- 
fication," including "such things as securing profes- 
sional painting and landscaping advice for blocks or 
neighborhoods which desire to 'spruce up,' the installa- 
tion of decorative street lamps, benches, flowerbeds, 
and other facets of 'streetscapes' for both downtown 
Phoenix and outlying areas." 

▼ Art institutions can encourage a fresh look at their 
hometown. In May 1983, the Walker Art Center, in 
Minneapolis, sponsored a three-day public symposium 
that focused on four central city projects in the plan- 
ning or construction stage. A bus tour to each site was 
followed by presentations from project architects and 
planners. Invited "respondents" — six nationally rec- 
ognized experts in architecture, preservation, and 
development — then discussed the projects in terms of 
their relation to the city as a whole, the range of urban 
amenities they might provide to a broad cross-section of 
the community, and their outstanding characteristics as 
architecture and urban "place." Results of the sympo- 
sium, which was called Minneapolis Profile 1983, were 
published as a special issue of the Walker Art Center's 
Design Quarterly. "Our feeling is, the more informed 
the public is, the better chance we have for better 
architecture," Mildred Friedman, the center's design 
curator, says of thinking behind the symposium. "We're 
not trying to make architecture critics out of the public. 
What we're asking is, 'What is the impact of this devel- 
opment?' What we're trying to create here is an aware 
audience, so that when something is proposed here, 
they have some awareness of what the impact of big 
structures, and small structures, will be on the city." 

LJ In many cities, attempts to enhance the urban 
image go astray by relying on imported models for 
development. The desire for improvement is sincere, 
but the result is architectural sameness. Where possi- 

Preservation comes naturally in 
Charleston, South Carolina (above 
and at left). A Society for the 
Preservation of Old Dwellings was 
established in 1920. The city's first 
historic-district ordinance was 

passed 1 1 years later The Dock 
Street Theatre, just down from St 
Philip's Church, was restored 
during the 1 930 s, with Works 
Progress Administration help. 



/ntown San Francisco's 
ptured skyline during the 

ble, it may make more sense to encourage those build- 
ing types and architectural styles that constitute a 
signature for local taste. In San Francisco, for example, 
a proposed downtown plan criticizes the "bulkiness and 
repetitive boxiness of many recent structures [that] 
have obscured the fine-scale sculptured skyline of pre- 
World War II San Francisco." The plan recommends 
buildings with "generally thinner and more complex 
shapes" as well as "more expressive, sculptured build- 
ing tops." According to Jonathan Malone, a member of 
the city planning department, the document "doesn't 
say every building has to look like the Chrysler Build- 
ing or the Empire State Building." It does, however, 
express as desirable "the evolution of a San Francisco 
imagery that departs from the austere, flat top box — a 
facade cut off in space." Other cities take sterner steps 
to hold the line against foreign styles. In Santa Fe, New 
Mexico, one of the country's oldest historic-district 
ordinances (written in 1957, revised during 1982-83) 
calls for design review, usually by a board whose mem- 
bers are appointed by the mayor, of remodeling, addi- 
tions, new construction, and demolition in five city 
historic districts. In Santa Fe's core historic district, all 
remodeling and new construction must adhere to what 
are known as the Pueblo Spanish Revival or Territorial 
Styles of architecture. 

Santa Fe's consciousness of urban design tradition pre- 
dates its ordinance. A 1912 map of the city, showing 
public improvements proposed by the planning board 
of that time, bears the legend "Ancient Streets To Be 
Left Undisturbed." According to Design & Preservation 
in Santa Fe, a 1977 study prepared by the city- 
planning department, the historic-district ordinance 
represents more than legislation for the protection of 
adobe. The study notes that the ordinance "put much of 
the city's cultural aesthetic development into the hands 
of Santa Fe residents rather than those of the devel- 
oper. . . . what came out of the ordinance is the view 
of the people of Santa Fe. . . . it is an expression of the 
population regarding the perceived character of the 

Dome aglow, the 77-story Chrysler 
Building, in New York City, was a 
summit of Art-Deco flair when it was 
completed in 1930 

Prescriptive ordinances, advisory boards, design com- 
petitions — all can preserve or create places as art. But 
cities and towns are complicated environments, with 
more on the agenda than architecture. In America, not 
every city has a sufficiency of pre- World War II skyline 
to suggest an alternative to architectural standardiza- 
tion. Not every town has the consciousness of architec- 
tural heritage or, for that matter, the heritage itself that 
a Santa Fe does. Even in cities with a past, change 
roars in with a force that seems to preclude planning for 
art. "Proposals for blockbuster new buildings [in Bos- 
ton] surface so often they dull the imagination. . . . 
such growth is the architectural equivalent of the Big 
Bang," writes the Globe's Robert Campbell. 

In any large urban project, city officials and developers 
conduct negotiations that establish a building's use, the 
materials it will be made of, the location of its 
entrances, the amenities it will offer. Calls for an aes- 
thetic intent in development may be resented, and 
resisted, as a troublesome addition to an already com- 
plicated, highly political process. Yet processes 
change. There are new things under the sun — Battery 
Park City and its arts committee with "a hell of a lot of 
autonomy" being one massive example. 

For better or worse, we build as we believe. A cathedral 
or a curbstone may each signify what we aspired to in 
our finer moments, or only that we worked with one eye 
on the budget and the other on the clock. 

"Architecture presents man, literature tells you about 
him, painting will picture him to you," believed Frank 
Lloyd Wright. "You can listen and hear him, but if you 
want to realize him and experience him go into his 
buildings, and that's where you'll find him as he is. He 
can't hide there from you and he can't hide from 

ank Lloyd Wright and his 1910 
ibie House, in Chicago. 


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ew Americans think that city-making 
is a fine art," wrote city planner and author Kevin 
Lynch. "We may at times enjoy a city, but only as a fact 
of nature — just there, like a mountain or the sea. But, 
of course, we are mistaken; cities are created objects, 
and at times in history they were managed and experi- 
enced as if they were works of art. However misshapen, 
a city is an intended landscape." 

Many Americans may still take for granted the cities 
they inhabit. But more and more of us — from architects 
to state governors — are demonstrating our appreciation 
of the intentions behind place-making, and of the bene- 
fits of thoughtful, intentional design. 

Each of the following case studies details an attempt to 
come to terms with the issue of quality in place-mak- 
ing. One, a privately managed awards program, simply 
drew attention to well designed, but for the most part 
overlooked, buildings. Another tells of an effort to 
focus public attention on the nature of city-making, an 
effort made in the belief that a better informed citizenry 
is our best guarantee of better civic space. Still others 
were attempts to encourage excellence in public archi- 
tecture, or to cure social ills through careful redesign 
and through the commissioning of public art. 

Although most city-making is the work of government, 
perhaps the important lesson in these examples is that 
individuals and non-government institutions can take 
the lead in advocating design excellence and artistic 
merit in development of public facilities. A profes- 
sional society, a school of art, a newspaper, a corporate 
patron — each can advance the cause of places as art. 

Philadelphia: Private Awards to 
Inform Designers and Their Public 

"Select, though not elite," is how the Philadelphia 
Inquirer, in the mid-1970s, described winners of that 
city's privately administered building-of-the-month 



f l 






^^^^^H III 


1 II 

\ Cr^"--'',. 

Similar cityscapes: From top, 
Seattle, New York, and Chicago 

Hll /nose things— 
naae, decoration- 
it architects are 
reluctant to use 
2 part of what 
wes up a citu S/i 
s a wau of tell in a 
witects to looA at the 


far v 

awards. Understandable, given that honored buildings 
included a Passyunk Avenue pizzeria, an Atlantic City 
fudge shop, and a shocking-pink brick rowhouse on 
North Lawrence Street. If art was here, one sometimes 
had to squint to see it. 

But for David Slovic, the Philadelphia architect who 
conceived of the awards, and who today acknowledges 
"the funkiness of the concept," the monthly prizes were 
also a serious matter. For one thing, says Slovic, the 
awards were intended "to get people in the city looking 
at the environment more, to become more aware that 
the city has a lot of riches. I thought of them as a teach- 
ing tool. I was propagandizing for architecture." 

At the same time they instructed the lay public, build- 
ings-of-the-month were meant to serve as continuing 
education for the city's architects. "The choices . . . 
did raise specific issues about architecture, design, 
and urban living," Slovic wrote in the spring 1984 issue 
of the journal Places. "For architects, who have the ten- 
dency to identify as architecture only what is built by 
the educated hand and eye of other architects, the 
Building-of-the-Month Award was a public celebra- 
tion, a lesson in public aesthetics." 

During 1976 and 1977, Slovic and his partners at Fri- 
day Architects/Planners handed out twenty building- 
of-the-month awards. Certificates — each embossed 
with a gold seal that bore, in Latin, the motto, "Every- 
one is to be trusted in his own special art" — went to a 
diner, a medical center, two Dodge dealerships, a 
municipal Christmas-light arrangement, and other 
winners. "We tried to keep them fairly topical," says 
Slovic, who now has his own architecture and urban- 
design firm in Philadelphia. "In September, we did a 
school. In August, we'd do something at the shore." 

Neighborhood newspapers published press releases 
and photographs that accompanied each month's 
award, according "instant landmark" status to local 
winners, says Slovic. "The buildings selected were not 
always great buildings," he says. "But they always had 
one great feature. Therefore in articles about monthly 


At St Albans Place, Philadelphia, 
townhouses that date from the 
1 870s enclose a garden-street that 
has no automobile traffic 

winners you'd learn about design through that one 

One award winner, an Italian restaurant, was honored 
by Friday Architects for its 1939 exterior, with "an 
easy-to-read neon sign complete with chef and "an 
outstanding black-and-white tile design that charm- 
ingly integrates signs and decoration, giving the entire 
street frontage a cheerful and inviting look." 

A small church was singled out for its "effective use of 
architectural symbolism to enhance a building's func- 
tion," namely the "permastone facade ... in the shape 
of a peaked roof typical of one-story churches" that 
had been applied to the front of the two-story stucco 

By pointing out the symbolic facade on the church or 
the sign on the pizza parlor, says Slovic, building-of- 
the-month awards also told "architects, who at that time 
were debating whether these things were good for their 
buildings, 'Look around you.' All those things — 
signage, decoration — that architects are so hesitant to 
use are part of what makes up a city. It was a way of 
telling architects, the trained people, to look at the ver- 
nacular.'' Recognize the "tenacious optimism" 
expressed by a shocking-pink rowhouse, as Slovic 
wrote in Places, and the perceptive designer may grasp 
"the means for making authentic places emanate from 
the patterns of life at hand." 

jh tree: Fan-shaped ginkgo 
3S fall on North American 
walks every autumn. Grown in 
)le gardens in China and 
in since ancient times, 
goes fare better than most 
> in polluted modern cities Sole 
3sentative of a group of related 
ts that were abundant 1 65 
)n years ago, ginkgoes are 
3 fossils, believed to no longer 
in the wild. 

Slovic says Friday Architects abandoned private 
award-making because it became too time-consuming. 
But he still believes cities can benefit from similar pro- 
grams that honor architectural diamonds in the rough 
and rhinestone rowhouses. 

"Each community should be encouraged to do some- 
thing like that," he says. "I meant to encourage people 
to use their own judgement. That then becomes a part of 
public discussion. Then people really look around and 
say, 'What's good that we have?'" 

As for members of his own profession, he says, "We, as 
architects, enliven people's experiences. I felt, as far as 

Steel framing evokes the 
Philadelphia house where Ben 
Franklin lived. The floor plan is 
detailed in white marble set in blacf 
slate. A museum sits below ground 
Franklin Court, a Bicentennial 
project by the architectural firm of 
Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown, 
won a 1984 Presidential Design 


the sensitivity behind these buildings, if architects 
could learn from that and look at that, then we could 
make better buildings. To look at how people live, and 
not at what other designers have already conceived of, I 
think that's really key." 

Colorado and Florida: State 
Prizes for Places 

Professional societies and state governments can do 
much to focus public attention on exemplary architec- 
ture. Awards programs in Colorado and Florida have 
each honored outstanding place-makers in order to 
encourage better design in private and public develop- 
ment projects. 

"I would like to give everybody the inclination to ask 
themselves what they want in their particular commu- 
nity," says Denver architect Stuart Ohlson, founder of 
the award-making Colorado Design Alliance. "If we 
can't have selfish interests in the places we occupy, 
we're going to be subject to the conditions of develop- 
ment, rather than controlling them." 

Colorado's "energy boom, which seemed to represent a 
growth in development and population," says Ohlson, 
was the impetus for forming the Colorado Design Alli- 
ance in 1982. (The alliance's membership is drawn 
from state chapters of the American Institute of Archi- 
tects, American Society of Landscape Architects, and 
American Planning Association, and from the Consult- 
ing Engineers Council of Colorado.) With the state's 
population expected to soar and the number of build- 
ings within its borders expected to double, alliance 
members felt Colorado citizens should be encouraged 
to help guide the design professionals who will shape 
the state's physical development. 

"We weren't anti-growth," says Ohlson. "We wanted to 
encourage those who were in the design and develop- 

Tounsts crowd the restored Main 
Street of Breckenndge, Colorado, 
winner of a 1 983 award from the 
state's private Design Alliance. 
Breckenridge was listed as a ghost 
town in some guidebooks as 
recently as the 1960s. The town's 
enactment of strict historic-district 
guidelines, in the 1970s, was 
complemented by private 

ment game to do the best possible work. One of our 
objectives was to provide a forum through which obser- 
vations, attitudes, criticisms could be dealt with effec- 
tively. The Columbine Awards were an attempt to 
channel that." 

For the alliance's 1983 Columbine Awards for Design 
Excellence, the professional organization divided Col- 
orado into five geographic regions and, through news- 
paper balloting, asked citizens to vote for the best of the 
state's buildings, plazas, streets, and other designed 
projects. Nominations were solicited through newspa- 
per articles about the awards; names and telephone 
numbers of local alliance members were published, 
and readers were asked to suggest favorite projects. 
Regional ballots were then published in newspapers, 
and readers voted for one of five projects in their area or 
wrote in their own candidate for a design award. 

Throughout Colorado, more than 4,000 Columbine bal- 
lots were cast. The mixed-use development Writer 
Square (described in the Denver Daily Journal as "an 
architectural bridge between the historic low-rise 
buildings of adjacent Larimer Square and the modern 
high-rise buildings of the new downtown Denver") was 
the winner among Denver-region voters. Other Colum- 
bine winners included a resort development near 
Durango, Colorado, and the restored Main Street of the 
former mining town of Breckenridge. In a ceremony at 
the Denver Botanic Gardens in June 1983, Columbine 
Award plaques were presented to local officials, archi- 
tects, engineers, and others responsible for each win- 
ning project. 

In Florida, the Governor's Design Awards program, 
begun in 1980, also aims to focus public attention on 
good design, but with the goal of encouraging better use 
of taxpayer dollars. 

Richard Chalmers, dean of the School of Architecture 
at Florida A & M University, says the awards program 
grew out of a conversation with Governor Bob Graham. 
"Our governor is very interested in building and archi- 
tecture," says Chalmers. "Back five years ago, we were 
talking and we asked what incentive is there for agen- 

ired, original lighting fixtures 
tinate the house at the restored 
iger Theater, in Pensacola, 
ier of a 1 984 Florida Governor's 
gn Award. Denver-area voters 
;e Writer Square (top) to 
ive a 1 983 Columbine Award in 

cies of government to use the taxpayers' money in a way 
that results in better architecture." Chalmers says Gov. 
Graham suggested the annual awards program that 
would recognize outstanding public projects. 

Nominations for the annual awards, invited in eight 
categories that range from educational facilities to res- 
toration-and-recycling projects, can come from any 
agency of local or state government. "The user makes 
the nomination," says an official in the governors office 
of planning and budgeting. "That's the ultimate test of a 
public building," he says, adding that each nominated 
building must also have been in continuous use for two 
or more years. 

As in Colorado, recognition — in the form of a certifi- 
cate : — goes to every member of the development team, 
including the government official who oversaw comple- 
tion of the winning project. A bronze plaque is mounted 
on the actual structure selected by the awards jury. 
Each year's jury is composed of members of Florida's 
design and engineering societies, plus one layman. 
The position of jury chairman rotates annually among 
the deans of Florida's three schools of architecture. 

"Boston's downtown 
development in the past 
twenty years has been 
explosive. In this short 
period of time . . . the 
architectural fabric of 
Boston has been trans- 
formed. This develop- 
ment, in the opinion of 
design professionals and 
the public at large, has 
been undertaken without 
enough regard to the 
needs of citizens for a 
better city environment." 

Governor's Design Award winners are not always build- 
ings. A bridge over a state road in Sarasota County won 
a 1983 award, according to the St. Petersburg Times, 
for its "clean, low-profile design." A vaudeville-theater 
restoration project, carried out by the city of Pensacola 
and the University of West Florida, was a 1984 winner, 
along with a downtown redevelopment project in North 
Miami, and a native-stone visitor center at a state park 
near Micanopy, Florida. 

Boston: '\ City Upon a Hill' 
Ponders its Livability 

As Webb Nichols tells it, the seed for the Boston Con- 
ference — that city's wide-ranging and remarkable 
examination, during 1984, of development in its down- 
town and neighborhoods — was planted during a slide 
show at the Boston Globe. 

Sunday boaters cruise the Charles, 
with Boston for their backdrop 

3sent shock: Its glass sheath 
lecting the clouds over Copley 
luare, the John Hancock Building 
vers above Trinity Church, 
jposite, old Faneuil Hall. 

A Cambridge, Massachusetts, architect, Nichols has 
expressed his worries about Boston development, and 
about the danger of losing the city's "spirit of place nur- 
tured over three centuries," in the opinion pages of the 
Globe. Invited in early 1983 to discuss architecture and 
development for Globe editors, he decided to present a 
slide-show "walking tour" of the city. During his pre- 
sentation, Nichols projected two slides, one of down- 
town Boston, the other of downtown Los Angeles. "And 
the editors, who are pretty sensitive people, couldn't 
tell which was which," recalls Nichols. Later, he met 
with Thomas Winship, the newspaper's chief editor, 
and suggested having "someone from the outside come 
in here and evaluate the city for those of us who can't 
see the forest for the trees." 

"I was concerned about Boston. I'd lived here since 
1967, and there seemed to be a great difference 
between the city one fantasizes about — the 'walking 
city,' Back Bay, cobblestones — and the city as it is. 
My intuition was that the city was being overbuilt and 
the quality of some of the work was inferior." An advan- 
tage of bringing in hired architectural guns to analyze 
the city, he says, is that "they've got no vested interest. 
They're not going to get any projects from the city." 

Ultimately, "Boston: A City and Its Future" took shape 
as a collaborative effort of the Globe and the Massachu- 
setts Institute of Technology, with the four-part confer- 
ence designed, managed, and staffed as a research 
project of MIT's Laboratory of Architecture and 

During the first, fact-finding phase of the conference, 
nationally known experts in architecture and planning 
were brought to the city to hear from public officials, 
developers, and other Bostonians who have contributed 
to the city's physical transformation. The experts 
attended hearings at three sites in different areas of 
Boston, as well as a day-long, wrap-up session at 
Faneuil Hall. At that final session, the visiting experts 
presented their findings to an audience of citizens and 
city officials. 

"There seemed to be a 
great difference between 
the city one fantasizes 
about— the 'walking city,' 
Back Bay, cobblestones— 
and the city as it is. My 
intuition was that the city 
was being overbuilt and 
the quality of some of the 
work was inferior." 


The conference format is 
now a tool that can be 
used by other cities con- 
fronting development 
issues. "We believe the 
model is replicable." 

"Tying the conference to an accountable set of facts 
about geographic areas of the city" was a major contri- 
bution of MIT's Laboratory of Architecture and Plan- 
ning, says Thomas Piper, principal research scientist 
at the lab and the conference's project director. Lab 
staff designed the series of three community-based 
workshops — what Piper calls "a moveable feast" — 
that focused on city areas subject to differing develop- 
ment pressures. 

The first area chosen for study — downtown extending 
to the waterfront — shows the concentrated effects of 
large-scale development that began in Boston in the 
late 1950s. The second study area, Washington Street 
from Chinatown to Roxbury, links two inner-Boston 
neighborhoods that have benefited little from the city's 
building boom. Copley Square, the third area, com- 
bines aspects of the first two study sites, according to an 
MIT newsletter, "as the place where the affluent com- 
mercial spine of Back Bay, extending from the down- 
town area, meets the economically mixed neighborhood 
of the South End, many of whose residents have experi- 
enced or are threatened by displacement." 

Each city section was described in detailed case stud- 
ies prepared by MIT research staff. "The case studies 
were actually briefing documents for the local as well as 
the national panelists," says Piper. Those local panel- 
ists, who gave presentations at workshops and who took 
questions from the public and the invited national 
experts, included more than two dozen officials, 
developers, design professionals, and community 

For its part, the Globe provided extensive daily cover- 
age of the spring 1984 workshops and of the wrap-up 
conference at Faneuil Hall. In November 1984, the 
newspaper also published a 48-page magazine supple- 
ment on the conference and issues it raised. Titled "The 
Livable City?" the supplement was intended, accord- 
ing to the Globe, "to further and to focus the debate" on 
Boston development. 

At the heart of that debate is the fear that the city's 
downtown has been developed without regard for civic 

needs, that despite projects that are the envy of other 
cities, much of Boston's building has failed to produce 
a substantially better public city. 

"Boston's downtown development in the past twenty 
years has been explosive," Globe editor Winship wrote 
in a pre-conference letter. "In this short period of time, 
under the leadership of political administrators com- 
mitted to city growth, the architectural fabric of Boston 
has been transformed. This development, in the opin- 
ion of design professionals and the public at large, has 
been undertaken without enough regard to the needs of 
citizens for a better city environment. The massive con- 
struction program has also raised the question of social 
equity, as the downtown appears to be prospering in an 
era of declining Boston neighborhoods." 

The five national experts invited by the Globe and MIT 
to participate in the Boston Conference included: J. 
Max Bond, Jr., chairman of Columbia University's 
Graduate School of Architecture and Planning; Dolores 
Hayden, professor of architecture and planning at the 
University of California, Los Angeles; Allan B. Jacobs, 
professor of city and regional planning, University of 
California, Berkeley; Moon Landrieu, former mayor of 
New Orleans and secretary of Housing and Urban 
Development during the Carter Administration; and 
Barton Myers, professor of architecture at UCLA. 

AtFaneuil Hall on May 12, 1984, the panelists offered 
a variety of prescriptions and observations. Allan 
Jacobs urged the city to devise a new master plan, lest 
future development be left to the "whims of chance." 

Barton Myers saw Boston in danger of becoming a typi- 
cal "unicentered North American city, with its radi- 
cally high-density, high-rise downtown core, with its 
sprawling, radically low peripheral areas." Moon Lan- 
drieu, on the other hand, defended tall buildings: "I 
don't find working on the fortieth floor of a high-rise 
inferior to working in a sweatshop in the basement of a 
building of human scale." 

Was the conference a success? "A very valuable stan- 
dard-setting exercise, a consciousness-raising exer- 

"For we must consider 
that we shall be a city 
upon a hill. The eyes of all 
people ate upon us." 

cise," is how John de Monchaux, dean of MIT's School 
of Architecture and Planning, summed it up. "The 
chief purpose was to inform the debate that would 
shape Boston. I think in the broadest sense it did that," 
he says, adding, however, that only the next half-dozen 
years of city development will begin to tell the tale. 

To Thomas Piper, of the MIT Laboratory of Architecture 
and Planning, the conference format is now a tool that 
can be used by other cities confronting development 
issues. "We believe the model is replicable," he says, 
provided "you can bring in one of these powerful com- 
munications technologies, a newspaper or a television 
station," and provided a city has the services of "a 
broker like MIT." 

Webb Nichols, the architect who proposed the confer- 
ence, gives Boston's 1984 debate on development 
mixed marks. "We still really don't have a consensus of 
how the city should go," he says. At the three local 
forums and at the Faneuil Hall wrap-up, "it was diffi- 
cult for people to hold on to a discussion of how Boston 
is being built." In a city with social and economic ten- 
sions, "the more one seemed preoccupied with that, the 
more it seemed an elitist preoccupation." 

Yet as a result of the conference, says Nichols, "I think 
there has been a sensitivity toward building now in Bos- 
ton." And he believes that public forums and newspa- 
per coverage that focus on urban design, thus creating 
citizens informed about architecture and development, 
"can help prevent bad work from taking place." 

The Globe, in its special conference supplement, 
reminded readers of testimony from an old Boston 
hand: "For we must consider that we shall be a city 
upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us," John 
Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 
told New England-bound Puritans in 1630. 

In later days, said the newspaper, descendants of those 
first Bostonians had "leveled the hills and pushed them 
into the sea to create the Back Bay, the South End, and 
other wonders of urban elegance .... In the late 20th 
and into the 21st century, Bostonians must decide how 

: of place: On an April night in 
, Paul Revere saw the lantern 
inst Church's lofty steeple, and 
off to rouse the minute men. 

to control and enhance their environment .... In 
addressing the civic design of this prosperous, hand- 
some, widely admired, world-class city, John Win- 
throp's warning," suggested the newspaper, was "worth 

Escondido: Staging a Competition 
to Focus the City's Vision 

'The idea," says Rod Wood, assistant city manager of 
Escondido, California, "was to set a trend for excel- 
lence in architecture." The problem, he says, was that 
when people tried to visualize Escondido's badly 
needed new civic/cultural center — the acknowledged 
starting point for local architectural excellence — that 
the downtown complex should look "nice" was all any- 
one could agree on. 

"Everybody in the community knew we wanted an 
architectural masterpiece — within the budget," says 
Wood. "But no one could visualize what that building 
would look like. Ninety-five percent of the reason we 
went with a design competition is we didn't specifically 
know what we wanted." 

Escondido officials did know a new civic center would 
fulfill three major needs — providing government office 
space, a center for conferences and meetings, and a 
cultural facility for the performing and fine arts. For the 
city of 72,000 people, situated thirty miles northeast of 
San Diego, the civic center also represented a way to 
insure Escondido's role as a leader in northern San 
Diego County. 

For Escondido, and for architects invited to partici- 
pate, the city's 1984 design competition posed a unique 
opportunity to devise a development scheme for an 
entire downtown block in a fast-growing southern Cali- 
fornia community. According to Rod Wood, the city 
also hoped its competition would attract national atten- 
tion to the city's proposed $52-million construction 
project, thus increasing Escondido's chances of obtain- 
ing corporate and foundation funds to support civic- 

"Ninety-five per- 
cent off the reason 
we went with a 
design competition 
is we didn't specifi- 
cally know what we 
wanted . . . .The idea 
was to set a trend 
for excellence in 

m so excited I ivant to 
n out tomorrow and 
irt building it." 

center cultural programs. As Wood points out, "It's very 
difficult to ask somebody for $100,000 for a project 
they've never heard of." 

The two-stage urban design competition was partlv 
financed with funds from the Design Arts Program of 
the National Endowment for the Arts. Escondido 
advertised its competition nationally, to attract a wide 
range of entrants and to provide younger architects the 
opportunity to compete with well-established firms. 
Further, the city agreed to pay a $7,500 honorarium to 
each of five design-team finalists, and an additional 
$10,000 prize to the competition winner. 

The eleven-member jury for the seven-month competi- 
tion included professional designers and architects and 
Escondido city officials and residents. In an important 
sense, however, all of Escondido helped judge the 

"We opened up the first and second stage of this compe- 
tition to the public to get comments," says Rod Wood. 
"In the first phase [when 108 architects submitted pro- 
posals] we had over 1,500 citizens make comments. 
They were all typed up and presented to the jury." 

During the second stage of the competition — when five 
finalists refined their submissions — the city aired a 
twenty-minute cable television program that presented 
the top designs and further explained the city's civic- 
center plans. Viewers were given an address to which 
they could send comments. Also, a local newspaper 
published photographs of finalists' designs and pro- 
vided information about the civic center. The purpose 
of the public polling, says Wood, was not to pick the 
winner of the competition (the jury would do that), but 
to help jury members gauge public taste in the diverse 

The jury's unanimous choice for the winning civic-cen- 
ter design came from Pacific Associates Planners & 
Architects, of San Diego, whose plan featured a wel- 
coming city-hall entrance, lattice-covered arcades, 
intimate courtyards, and a chime tower above a reflect- 
ing pool. 


In Escondido, California, the town 
solicited comments from citizens to 
help an eleven-member jury select 
the winning entry (above) for a new 
downtown civic/cultural center 

[lie jurors were 
npressed because the 
esig)i captured a sense 

ific Associates Planners & 
hitects proposed the scheme 
ove) that Escondido hopes wi 
a trend for excellence in 


"The jurors were impressed," William Liskamm, a San 
Rafael architect and the competition's professional 
adviser, told the Los Angeles Times, "because the 
design captured a sense of spirit." 

Escondido's official assessment of the design competi- 
tion that yielded a city's vision for architectural excel- 
lence may have been best expressed by Mayor Ernie 
Cowan. "I'm so excited," said the mayor when the win- 
ner was announced, "I want to run out tomorrow and 

In the late 1930s, MacArthur Park 
visitors savored the urban scene 
across untroubled waters. 

Los Angeles: Culture as Cure 
for MacArthur Park 

Like a foster parent taking on a troubled but promising 
child, the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design 
has "adopted" MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, with the 
intention of molding a thicket of crime into a place as 

"The goal of this program is to give MacArthur Park a 
new identity," says Al Nodal, director of exhibitions at 
Otis/Parsons. "Right now, the identity is crime. You 
say 'MacArthur Park' and people shudder. We're trying 

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;Arthur Park around 1940, 
;ing toward the Hollywood Hills. 
', white buildings at the park's 
e, where Wilshire Boulevard 
rsects the park, house the Otis 

to change the identity to art. 
that qualifies as a tall order. 

For Nodal, and for art, 

"In all of Los Angeles, there may be no other gathering 
place quite like MacArthur Park, centerpiece of the 
city's most crowded neighborhood, one of its most bus- 
tling and varied, and one of its poorest," reported the 
Los Angeles Times. Once a park "for daytime strolling, 
evening dances, plays and other activities befitting its 
affluent surroundings," MacArthur declined over the 
years, becoming "a haven for the unemployed, winos, 
and other homeless wanderers," and, after dark, a stag- 
ing ground for "dope dealers and those who prey on the 
weak." Elderly neighborhood residents, said the Times, 
"remember the old days in the park but now avoid it as 
if it were a swamp." 

Nodal, who is directing the Otis/Parsons program to 
reshape the park, sees the thirty-two-acre site as some- 
thing more — a potential "urban laboratory" in which 
to "demonstrate the potency of creative approaches and 
fresh thinking toward complicated urban issues." 

"We want to understand and build upon the park's char- 
acter," Nodal told the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. 
"What we want to avoid like the plague is any sense of 
highbrows imposing clever ideas on a passive public. 
We're talking to everyone we can around here, generat- 
ing interest where there was only despair, focusing 
energy where official initiatives fail." 

Art may prove the salvation of MacArthur Park, but 
crime and cleanliness are of more immediate concern to 
the neighborhood. Thus, Nodal has worked at commu- 
nity organizing as well as at arts planning. Through the 
new MacArthur Park Community Council, Nodal has 
obtained public and private funds for the Otis/Parsons 
art program, as well as the backing of the Los Angeles 
Police Department and the city's Recreation-and-Parks 
and Cultural-Affairs Commissions. In October 1984, 
Nodal and the community council's chairman, a local 
hotel owner, called the first meeting of a "Business 
Watch" group. An organizing session for the neighbor- 
hood's first community crime-watch program, the meet- 
ing was attended by more than one hundred local 

"The goal of this 
program is to give 
MacArthur Park a 
new identity. Right 
now, the identity is 
crime .... We're 
trying to change the 
identity to art." 



We want to under- avoid like the plague is 

and and build upon any sense of highbrows 

ie parks character. imposing clever ideas 

\ loat we want to on a passive public. " 

i r\ i i i 


;n of MacArthur: In 1942, the 
rk was named after General 
luglas MacArthur (statue at top). 
le Otis Group" honors the 
jnder of the Los Angeles Times. 
Nodal, of Otis/Parsons, sees the 
rk as an urban laboratory for 
ring with culture. 

merchants. The community council has also formed a 
beautification committee to oversee MacArthur Park 
trash clean-up efforts. The councils public-affairs 
committee has been given the task of winning favorable 
press coverage for community efforts. 

Meanwhile, Nodal is pushing forward with the MacAr- 
thur Park cultural program. Phase I, in early 1984, and 
"designed," says Nodal, "to introduce a more visible 
cultural presence in . . . the community and to initiate 
interest in a program of public art," brought the creation 
of three temporary public art works and two semi-per- 
manent sculptures by Los Angeles artists. The art 
works — partly intended as a means for testing local 
waters — were installed on the Wilshire Boulevard 
frontage of Otis/Parsons, directly overlooking the park. 

During Phase II, in late 1984, a national committee of 
artists and public-art experts gauged community reac- 
tion to the first five art works, surveyed sites for future 
MacArthur Park art, and selected artists for Phase III of 
the program. Those Phase III artists, after meetings 
with neighborhood residents, were expected to create 
(on site in MacArthur Park) up to ten works of art that 
would be maintained by Otis/Parsons. Finally, during 
Phase IV of the visual-arts program, in late 1985. 
a permanent work of neon art was to be created for 
the exterior of the Otis/Parsons Exhibition Center on 
Wilshire Boulevard. 

In conjunction with the visual-arts program, Otis/ 
Parsons has planned a design-demonstration project, 
featuring Los Angeles designers and artists, to develop 
an overall plan for architecturally and functionally 
refurbishing the long-neglected city park. 

"The mandate of this team will be to build on the park's 
character to create an urban place that is expressive of 
its traditions, aspirations, and values," reports Otis/ 
Parsons. "Elements of the plan [to be presented to the 
community in a fall 1986 exhibition and symposium] 
will include general lighting in the park, the lighting of 
specific art works and existing monuments, and the 
refurbishing of the General Douglas MacArthur monu- 
ment .... Proposals for improving MacArthur Park 

Bandshell, converting the currently defunct Senior Cit- 
izens Center into a working arts and crafts facility, and 
for the renovation of other existing structures in the 
park, such as the boathouse, food concessions, and 
bathrooms, will be developed. Seating, walkways, and 
landscaping will also be treated." 

Meanwhile, while the sculptors sculpt and the design- 
ers design, an Otis/Parsons performing-arts advisory 
committee will help arrange six MacArthur Park mini- 
festivals of dance, opera, theater, music, comedy, and 
folklore to be presented free in the park during 1985 
and 1986. 

Adoption, of course, is forever, and even an arts pro- 
gram as ambitious as Otis/Parsons' should offer contin- 
uing hope, not just a short-term diversion from 
community problems. To that end, Nodal and Otis/ 
Parsons have prepared plans to evaluate the MacArthur 
program and to develop criteria for continuing it. 

"Can Al Nodal and his group overcome the old indiffer- 
ence of Angelenos to their public spaces?" asked the 
Los Angeles Herald Examiner in an article on the 
MacArthur Park art program. "Can [Nodal] learn to 
walk upon the water?" 

Nodal would seem to think so. His faith in the possibil- 
ity of remaking places with art is great. "Artists," he 
believes, "are capable of providing the leadership 
needed to revitalize a community." He also hopes other 
cities will be encouraged to study Otis/Parsons' efforts 
as a guide to reshaping their own troubled urban spaces 
into places as art. 

"We feel artists can come in with a fresh approach," he 
says, "using culture, using art, to give a community a 
new focus. We're trying to do that for this neighbor- 
hood, which hasn't had a focus, which has been 
blighted over the years. We're hoping this program will 
be the first model for that sort of approach, which can 
then be tried elsewhere." 

Angelenos rowed their boats at the 
park in the early years of this 
century, relaxed on shore during 
the 1940s, attended drawing class 
in the 1950s 

Dolumbus, Irwin Union Bank^ 
ist addition was designed by 
vin Roche John Dinkeloo & 
sociates, completed in 1973. 

"We're third in the nation 
with buildings by famous 
contemporary architects — 
forty-seven now and three 
on the drawing boards." 

Columbus: Corporate Support for 
Prairie Architecture 

"It's a delight to be mayor of Columbus, Indiana," says 
Robert Stewart. The Columbus native and first-term 
mayor mentions the excellence of his city's schools 
and cultural activities as two reasons Columbus 
ranks as more than "just another typical Midwestern 

But treasures of stone, and steel, and glass — the nota- 
ble buildings that have gone up in Columbus since the 
1940s — are what draw some 50,000 sightseers a year 
to the town, and are what have earned Columbus the 
title of "Athens on the Prairie." 

"We're third in the nation," Stewart says of the city, 
"with buildings by famous contemporary architects — 
forty-seven now and three on the drawing boards." 
Given Columbus' size (population 30,000), the town 
almost certainly qualifies, as the Chamber of Com- 
merce likes to point out. as "the most concentrated col- 
lection of contemporary architecture in the world." 

"On Sundays, the citizens of Columbus worship in 
churches designed by Eero and Eliel Saarinen," 
reported Time magazine in 1977. "They borrow books 
at a library built from the innovative plans of I.M. Pei 
and embellished with a bronze arch sculpted by Henry 
Moore. They shop in a glass-enclosed piazza designed 
by Cesar Pelli, and send their children to schools con- 
ceived by architects Harry Weese, Eliot Noyes, and 
John Warnecke." 

Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church, completed in 
1942, is the oldest of Columbus' contemporary archi- 
tectural treasures. Saarinen was commissioned as 
architect at the urging of J. Irwin Miller, a Columbus 
industrialist who has been dubbed "the Medici of the 
Midwest." Miller, 76, is chairman of the executive and 
finance committee of Cummins Engine Company. The 
company, with headquarters in Columbus, manufac- 
tures diesel truck engines and employs 9,000 people in 
the Columbus area. 

Built treasures draw students and 
lay enthusiasts of architecture to 
Columbus, Indiana, where a 
Cummins Engine Company 
program has paid design fees for 
schools and other public 

*chitectural excel- 
lce has "brought a 
lality of life into 
is little commu- 
ty which otherwise 
3uld have been 

In the mid-1950s, after he had become board chairman 
at Cummins, Miller further nudged his hometown 
toward architectural excellence when he announced 
that the newly formed Cummins Engine Foundation 
would pay design fees for new public schools in 

"This was the period when the baby-boomers were 
entering school," says Ann Smith, public-information 
manager at Cummins Engine. "Columbus had built no 
new schools since the 1920s, and there was a need for a 
number of schools to be put up quickly." 

Other city agencies have since taken advantage of the 
Cummins Foundation architecture program. Founda- 
tion guidelines stipulate that the public governing 
board responsible for construction choose its architect 
from a list of first-rank American designers. The list 
must be compiled by "a disinterested panel of two of the 
country's most distinguished architects." Architects 
chosen by a city agency must also be ones not previ- 
ously selected for Cummins-supported projects. As of 
late 1983, the Cummins Foundation had spent more 
than $8 million on the architecture program. 

"Cummins has handled this whole thing very adroitly," 
says Robert Brown, owner and publisher of the Colum- 
bus Republic newspaper. "The architects for these 
buildings are not selected by Cummins. An architect 
who has done a building doesn't get back on the list. 
Cummins pays the architect without any restriction on 
the size of the building, the design of the building. It's 
just about as hands-off a program as there can be." 

In 1957, the Lillian C. Schmitt Elementary School, 
designed by Chicago architect Harry Weese, became 
the first public building to result from the Cummins 
program. In all, a dozen schools have been built with 
architectural fees paid by Cummins. Other Cummins- 
supported public buildings in Columbus include a fire 
station, a regional mental health center, the city hall, 
and the Columbus Post Office, which is the first United 
States post office to be designed by privately paid archi- 

J. Irwin Miller and Cummins Engine have set the pace 

i Columbus Fire Department's 
tion No. 4, built in 1967, was 
iigned by Venturi & Rauch. 

for fine architecture in Columbus. But other public and 
private structures have been designed by well-known 
architects without Cummins' assistance. "We've been 
fortunate," says Mayor Stewart. The town's renowned 
architecture has brought its own benefits, he says. 
"We've never made any campaign to attract visitors," 
but they still pour in — lay enthusiasts of design by 
ones and twos and architecture students by the bus- 
load. The town's famous contemporary architecture has 
also encouraged citizens to preserve and restore the 
community's fine old architecture. According to the 
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, downtown 
merchants cooperated several years ago "in storefront 
repainting and new signage for a 'model block' 
[designed by architect Alexander Girard] between Fifth 
and Sixth Streets on Washington Street .... Since 
then many downtown area owners have followed the 
master plan to rejuvenate the typical Midwestern nine- 
teenth-century buildings." 

"It's brought a quality of life into this little community 
which otherwise would have been unattainable," 
Robert Brown says of his city's devotion to architectural 
excellence. "It's encouraged other people to do things 
they might not otherwise have done. A case in point," 
says the publisher of the Republic, "is our newspaper 
building." The Republic plant, designed by Skidmore, 
Owings & Merrill, won a 1975 honor award from the 
American Institute of Architects. "We wanted to do 
something that was compatible with the community," 
explains Brown. "There's a certain amount of peer pres- 
sure. When people do something horrible [in terms of 
design] letters are written to the newspaper complain- 

Of course, even the most artful architecture must suc- 
ceed as shelter. Fortunately, the treasures of Columbus 
do just that. "They are places to learn in, pray in, read 
in, have fun in, work in, bank in, have the daily life of 
the community written and printed in," reported 
National Geographic . "Small town in scale," the maga- 
zine said of the buildings of Athens on the Prairie, 
"they fit in like slightly eccentric neighbors, adding 
variety, provoking debate, and stimulating a taste for 
the unconventional." 

The 1964 North Christian Church 
was the last building designed by 
architect Eero Saannen. 


n December 1933, St. Patrick's 
"athedral towered over the 
oundation for Rockefeller Center's 
11-story International Building. 


■MM t 1* 


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I ineteen buildings in a city studded with nota- 
ble architecture, Rockefeller Center is one of Ameri- 
ca's classic urban spaces, a city-within-a-city that, 
according to a 1939 guidebook, "stands as distinctively 
for New York as the Louvre stands for Paris." 


Designed quickly, by a crew of architects, the complex 
expresses a degree of integrity that generally appears 
only in single structures created slowly and in solitude. 
"It is a feat of mingled inspiration and accommodation 
that architectural historians will go on pondering for as 
long as the Center stands." wrote Brendan Gill. 

In the 1920s, the midtown site where Rockefeller Cen- 
ter now stands was occupied by bordellos and speak- 
easies. A new opera house was proposed as a suitable 
replacement for the low-toned neighborhood, and 
financial backing from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was 
secured for the project. The stock market crashed a 
year later, and the opera house plan was scrapped. 
Rockefeller, however, still held the lease for three 
expensive blocks of Manhattan. A new plan was devel- 
oped for a skyscraper complex that would stand as an 
example for future urban planning. 

"Wasteful," "undistinguished," and "inartistic" were 
just a few of the criticisms hurled at the scheme before 
construction began. By 1938, when the Center was 
nearly complete, New Yorkers had grown more enthusi- 
astic about Rockefellers addition to the urban land- 
scape. "This is the Future," said social historian 
Frederick Lewis Allen. 

In a city of superlatives, Rockefeller Center set new 
standards for greatness. The 850-foot RCA Building, 
nicknamed the "Slab," was not only one of New York's 
tallest skyscrapers; in gross space, it was the world's 
largest office building. Inside Radio City Music Hall, 
where ticket prices began at 40«*, New Yorkers could 
wonder at the golden proscenium arch, its 300-ton 

truss the heaviest that had been used in a theater. They 
could listen to the world's largest theater orchestra, and 
watch films on the world's largest movie screen. When 
the Rockettes came on stage, the audience enjoyed the 
world's longest line of precision dancers. 

Nowadays, Rockefeller Center is admired less for its 
size than for the intelligence with which it was 
designed. Walking among the Center's towers, one 
becomes conscious of relationships between individual 
structures. Different spaces between buildings, and 
differing heights and circulation patterns, blend to form 
a coherent whole. The creation that Lewis Mumford, in 
1940, called "architecturally the most exciting mass of 
buildings in the city" is a vision of the future that con- 
tinues to inspire. 

1 i ' 23 










rank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, a house can- 
tilevered over a waterfall on a forested site in the Bear 
Run Valley of Pennsylvania, was designed in 1935, 
when the architect was sixty-eight years old, and in the 
fourth decade of his career. 

For Wright, the house in the woods came at something 
just short of midpoint, wrote Tom Wolfe, in "the most 
prodigious outpouring of work in the history of Ameri- 
can architecture." 

"In the next twenty-three years, until his death at the 
age of ninety-one in 1959, he did more than half of his 
life's work, more than 180 buildings, including the 
Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin; 
Herbert F. Johnson's mansion, Wingspread; Taliesin 
West; the Florida Southern campus; the Usonian 
homes; the Price Company tower; and the Guggenheim 

Wright designed Fallingwater for Edgar J. Kaufmann, 
Sr. , a Pittsburgh department store owner and the father 
of one of the architect's apprentices. Although an 
admirer of Wright, Kaufmann was surprised by his first 
sketches for the house, having imagined that his coun- 
try retreat would be near, but not necessarily over, the 
water. "E.J., I want you to live with the waterfall, not 
just to look at it," Wright told Kaufmann. 

As conceived by Wright, the house would be formed of 
concrete terraces that echoed the rock ledges of the 
landscape. To support a house that, in Wright's words, 
came "leaping out" over the falls, the architect relied 
on cantilever beams of reinforced concrete. Vertical 
planes of sandstone, quarried on the site, separate the 
horizontal concrete terraces. The rock ledge beneath 
the house penetrates the living-room floor, forming the 

Years later, speaking of the house and of the man for 
whom he designed it, Wright said, "I think you can hear 
the waterfall when you look at the design. At least il is 
there, and he lives intimately with the thing he loves." 




•• ' 

MM i ; v 


HIiiiii ■ 





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was trying," Eero Saarinen said of his design for 
the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, "to reach for an abso- 
lutely permanent form — a high form." 

A slender hoop rising 630 feet above a bluff along the 
Mississippi River, the Gateway Arch is our tallest mon- 
ument. Known officially as the Jefferson National 
Expansion Memorial, the arch honors our third presi- 
dent and commemorates America's westward growth. It 
was also intended, in Saarinen's words, as "a triumphal 
arch for our age as the triumphal arches of classical 
antiquity were for theirs." 

Son of the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, the younger 
Saarinen designed the United States Embassy in Lon- 
don, the Trans World Airlines terminal at Kennedy Air- 
port, and the Dulles Airport building outside 
Washington, D.C. But it was his plan for a stainless- 
steel arch on the Mississippi — first prize winner in a 
1948 design competition that both Saarinens entered 
separately — that brought the son independent notice. 
Eero Saarinen died in 1961, more than a year before 
assembly of the Gateway Arch got underway, and seven 
years before it was dedicated. 

Composed of an inner skin of carbon steel and an outer 
one of polished stainless steel, the arch is a catenary 
curve, measuring the same distance from ground to 
crest as it does from extrados to extrados. 

For Saarinen, creating the proper memorial involved 
more than selecting an appropriate sculptural form. He 
also worked to integrate the intentions of the monument 
with the site. 

"The arch was placed near the Mississippi River, where 
it would have most significance," he said of his design 
in 1959. "Here it could make a strong axial relation 
with the handsome, historic Old Courthouse which it 
frames. Here, from its summit, the public could con- 
front the magnificent river . . . All the lines of the site 
plan, including the paths and the roads, and even the 
railroad tunnels, have been brought into the same fam- 
ily of curves to which the great arch itself belongs." 



« . 



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ne level down from the busy streets of the city, 
San Antonio's Paseo del Rio has been described, in the 
AIA Journal, as "a linear paradise of infinitely changing 
vistas . . . animated by the presence of buildings, 
shops, restaurants, and people." 

There was a time when San Antonio's ten miles of river 
corridor seemed quite the opposite of paradise. After 
the flood of 1920 raised the waters 35 feet above nor- 
mal, there was talk of covering the river for a sewer and 
converting the space into a major avenue. Four years 
later, the San Antonio Conservation Society was 
formed, and by 1937 work had begun — much of it car- 
ried out through the Works Progress Administration — 
to improve rather than bury the river. The WPA project 
brought stairways, footbridges, plantings and 17,000 
feet of river walkway that stretched the length of 
twenty-one city blocks. 

Saved from sewerage, the San Antonio River is now rec- 
ognized as the city's foremost downtown amenity. The 
U-shaped Paseo del Rio, a loop in the river with parks, 
cafes, and esplanades, is a magnet for tourists as well 
as San Antonio residents. The Paseo is linked to the 
city's regular street system by bridges and spiral stairs. 
Tall cypress trees offer vertical scale, and bridges frame 
distant views. A Texas counterpart to the quais of Paris, 
San Antonio's river walk is an urban experience unique 
in America — the sunken, flowing heart of a bustling 





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^H T HIHotr than a centur) after its heyday, the 
town of Jim Thorpe, in northeastern Pennsylvania's 
Carbon County, remains a nearly intact showcase for 
Victorian-era architecture. 

Wealth brought in European artisans and Tiffany glass, 
to embellish and adorn the elegant brick mansions on 
the stretch of Broadway called Millionaire's Row. 
Mauch Chunk, as the town was originally known, was a 
hub in a network of canals, railroads, and mines — a 

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linchpin in the Industrial Revolution. At its capitalist 
peak, the town is thought to have had more resident 
millionaires, per capita, than any place in the United 
States. Asa Packer, one of those millionaires and the 
founder of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, built an Italian- 
ate villa in Mauch Chunk in 1860. He had artisans 
carve 5,000 rosettes into the mansion's mahogany and 
walnut paneling. 

An 1874 guidebook recommended Mauch Chunk as 
"the Switzerland of America" and one of the nation's 
"most noted and popular inland summer resorts." 
Times changed for the worse, and in hopes of recaptur- 
ing lost glory Mauch Chunk renamed itself, in the 
1950s, after the great Cherokee athlete Jim Thorpe. 

Thorpe had never visited Mauch Chunk. But he had 
first achieved national celebrity as an athlete while 
attending Carlisle Indian School, 90 miles away. At the 
suggestion of Thorpe's widow, his body was laid to rest 
beneath a 20-ton granite tombstone on the east side of 

using its architectural heritage to attract tourists. 
Guided walking tours and other ventures have been 
planned, to cater to visiting fans of architectural 

A 1979 study, conducted for the Carbon County Plan- 
ning Commission by the architectural firm of Venturi, 
Rauch, and Scott Brown, urged local officials to focus 
on Jim Thorpe's identity as a "jewel-like town with a 
proud industrial heritage." The town and its architec- 
tural treasures are tightly nestled in a winding valley 
between mountain walls. "In the interlocking of land 
with built form . . . Jim Thorpe is utterly unique," 
noted the study. "It is beautifully, ingeniously and rela- 
tively unalterably engaged in a difficult and spectacular 
site, and remains a place where natural elements [and] 
form built with nature, to human scale, and expressive 
of the town's past . . . still remain as the focal features 
of the landscape." 

In recent years, the town of Jim Thorpe has steered a 
different, perhaps surer, path toward economic rebirth, 

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It was called Country Club Plaza back in 1922. 
Over the decades, it has grown into a retail Brigadoon, 
with fountains, sculpture, and tree-lined boulevards. 
There are hotels, condominiums, and more than 150 
stores and restaurants. Now known simply as the Plaza, 
Kansas City, Missouri's shopping city is a 55-acre retort 
to the idea that one retail complex must resemble 

If the Plaza represents the shopping-center-as-art, 
indigenous art it is not. In America's heartland, Plaza 
managers prefer a Spanish motif of red-tiled roofs, fili- 
gree ironwork, and ornate towers. The decorative art — 
ranging from mermaids to winged steeds, and including 
a wood-carved Last Supper and a mural of toreadors — 
also nods toward the Old World. 

The Plaza's creator, however, was an American origi- 
nal. Born in Johnson County, Kansas, before the turn of 
the century, Jesse Nichols made his mark early as a 
salesman, turning profits on everything from fresh meat 
to Idaho mines. An established developer by 1908, he 
invested in statuary and other art objects for the neigh- 
borhoods he built. Nichols sent complimentary notes 
and occasional reprimands to homeowners, depending 
on the degree of care they lavished on their property. 

Around 1920, Nichols began buying up swampland for 
a site for Country Club Plaza. The first major shopping 
center catering to customers who would come by auto- 
mobile, the Plaza was planned with gas stations and 
garages. Parking lots, built to sit just below eye-level, 
were hidden by fences. 

The first business at the Plaza, a beauty salon, opened 
in 1922. Customers were introduced to something new 
— the permanent wave. In the more than sixty years 
that have passed since then, Jesse Nichols' Plaza has 
continued making waves as a shopping center perma- 
nently ahead of its time. 

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n 1971 a demolition contract had been signed for 
the Old Post Office, in Washington, D.C. The ten-story 
Romanesque Revival castle on Pennsylvania Avenue 
was destined for the rubble heap. 

Today, thanks to local preservationists and a $30-mil- 
lion restoration, the old building is alive with activity, 
putting a new spin on the expression "mixed-use." 

Government agencies (including the National Endow- 
ment for the Arts) occupy the building's 120,000 
square feet of office space. Shops and restaurants 
spread across the building's lower levels, where postal 
clerks once sorted mail. Finally, there is a vertical 
national park — the building's clock tower — where 
tourists take the elevator to admire the bells up top and 
the view of Washington outside. 

For the Old Post Office, 1971 was not the first time it 
evaded a date with dynamite. In the 1930s, when the 
building appeared to stand in the way of completing a 
complex of government office buildings in the down- 
town Federal Triangle, a local newspaper called the 
post office a "granite pile" and urged its destruction. 

Washington, D.C. architect Arthur Cotton Moore was 
among the preservationists who lobbied to save the Old 
Post Office in the 1970s. In 1977 Moore's firm won the 
federal design competition to restore the building. He 
gutted much of the building's interior and replaced the 
metal roof with a skylight. Now sunlight pours into the 
atrium, illuminating federal corridors as well as the 
retail "Pavilion" that lies 215 feet below the glass roof. 
In the Pavilion, a raised stage sits at the foot of the clock 
tower. Free concerts and other entertainment are 
booked daily. "We made it into a playful building," 
Moore told Historic Preservation magazine. "It's not just 
another federal building." 

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, rchitecture is my delight," Thomas 
Jefferson once said, "and putting up and pulling down, 
one of my favorite amusements." 

In Charlottesville, Virginia, America's most notable 
amateur architect created one of the world's great archi- 
tectural conceptions. The beauty of Jefferson's design 
for the University of Virginia lies not in any single 
detail or building, but in the order and purpose that 
create harmony among separate architectural parts. 

Jefferson's principal object was to establish an institu- 
tion of higher learning befitting a young republic — "an 
academical village . . . affording] that quiet retire- 
ment so friendly to study." But he also believed that 
buildings themselves can be tools for teaching and 
instruments of civilization. He intended that the uni- 
versity pavilions would serve as "models of taste" and 
"specimens for architectural lectures." 

The Lawn, the name for the complex that Jefferson 
designed, has as its centerpiece a domed Rotunda. 
Inspired by the Roman Pantheon, and containing the 
university library, it is flanked by ten classical pavil- 
ions, five on each side. These were the university's ten 
schools, and each held classrooms as well as profes- 
sors' living quarters. Behind the two-story pavilions 
came single-story dormitories for students. Between 
these building rows, Jefferson left space for the gardens 
that were delineated by a serpentine wall. A practical 
visionary, he designed the undulating wall partly to 
save on materials; a curving wall would be stronger 
than a straight one, and could be built one brick thick. 

After retiring from the presidency, Jefferson devoted 
much of his time to creating America's first non-church 
university. He was seventy-four when he laid the cor- 
nerstone for the first campus structure, in 1817. When 
Jefferson died, on July 4, 1826 only the Rotunda 
remained to be completed. One hundred and fifty years 
later, the American Institute of Architects declared the 
university buildings and grounds designed by Jefferson 
the nation's foremost architectural achievement. 

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wo boxes framed in steel — with walls of glass 
and stuccoed industrial sheeting — the Charles Eames 
house and studio in Pacific Palisades, California, "is 
serene and utterly unpretentious . . . the parent of 
virtually all of the 'high-tech' buildings of today," wrote 
Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New York 

"Unlike these descendants, however, which often seem 
to be following a fashion that celebrates industrial 
imagery as an end in itself, the Eames house makes of 
its industrial materials a gentle esthetic." 

Best known for the form-fitting chairs that bear his 
name, Charles Eames was also a film maker and a 
designer of movie sets, toys, exhibits, and — during 
World War II — stretchers and splints. Born in St. 
Louis, he flunked out of Washington University, where 
he had been studying architecture. Later, he was 
invited to the Cranbrook Academy of Art by its director, 
Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, where Eames became 
head of the experimental design department. 

In the late 1940s, Eames designed — for his own home 
— one of the most celebrated houses of the twentieth 
century. Set between a hillside and a row of eucalyptus 
trees, the Eames house had been commissioned as a 
case study by Arts & Architecture magazine, and it was 
to be built entirely of industrial products that could be 
ordered from catalogs. 

The house's skeleton consists of 4-inch by 4-inch steel 
columns, with diagonal braces absorbing wind loads, 
and a light skin of steel sheeting and glass. The living 
room is the full height of the two-story house. Two upper 
bedrooms, reached by a spiral stairway, have sliding 
panels that open onto the living room below. At the 
opposite end of the rectangular house, there is a two- 
story studio. 

Charles Eames and his wife and professional collabora- 
tor, Ray Kaiser Eames, decorated the house with sculp- 
ture, Indian artifacts, toys, seashells, and other items. 
"The house is really less an industrial object than an 
industrial container for other kinds of objects," wrote 
Paul Goldberger. "The overall effect to a first-time visi- 
tor was rather like being inside a Joseph Cornell box." 


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ven though it was New York's tallest struc- 
ture when dedicated in 1886, and a gift that commemo- 
rated our independence, the Statue of Liberty — now a 
national icon — received a frosty reception in America. 

"Liberty Enlightening the World," as the statue was 
originally named, was only grudgingly accepted by 
Congress. The gift of the people of France was con- 
demned in some circles as a "pagan goddess." One New 
York newspaper, in an editorial, fretted whether — "in 
view of the climate" — the figure would arrive properly 
draped. The statue that has become a symbol of free- 
dom to millions of immigrants and would-be immi- 
grants, had no place to stand until Joseph Pulitzer, the 
Hungarian-born press baron, used his New York World 
to whip up enthusiasm, and dollars, to complete a ped- 
estal on Bedloe's Island. 

That pedestal is nearly as remarkable as the sculpture 
it supports. Designed by American architect Richard 
Morris Hunt, the classical pedestal is 154 feet high. Its 
concrete walls are clad in pink granite. With the 53- 
foot-deep foundation on which its rests, it was the sin- 
gle greatest mass of concrete yet poured. Yet for all its 
bulk, it remains a proper pedestal, three feet taller than 
the statue above, yet never upstaging it. 

Created by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, her gown of 
copper hammered to a thickness of only 3/32 of an 
inch, the Statue of Liberty gets further support from the 
iron skeleton devised by Gustave Eiffel, the engineer 
who later designed the Paris tower that carries his 
name. With a central iron pylon bearing the weight of 
the statue, and a secondary internal framework lightly 
but firmly holding Bartholdi's sculpture in place, Lib- 
erty contracts or expands with changing temperatures, 
and gives slightly before the wind. America's best- 
known piece of sculpture is thus also one of the earliest 
examples of curtain-wall construction. 

Arriving by ship, packed in 214 crates, it was an 
expensive marvel. The statue alone is estimated to have 
cost more than $400,000 to create. Building the pedes- 
tal and erecting the gift from France cost another 
$350,000. On the other hand, restoration of the Statue 
of Liberty, for its 1986 centenary, is expected to cost 
approximately $30 million. 








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he cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park 
are America's first apartment houses. Constructed more 
than two centuries before Columbus sailed for the New 
World, the ruins remain an architectural triumph and 
an archeological puzzle. 

Nestled in the canyon country of southwestern Colo- 
rado, the multi-story houses were built by Anasazi 
Indians, "the ancient ones" in the Navajo language. 
Scarcely a hundred years after they were built, the cliff 
dwellings, and the mesa itself, had been abandoned. 
No sure explanation exists for the Anasazi's departure 
from Mesa Verde. Enemy harassment, drought, and 
overpopulation have all been suggested by archeolo- 
gists as possible reasons. 

We do know that the architectural flowering that led to 
the cliff houses is unique in prehistoric North America. 
The Anasazi's earliest pole and mud houses, con- 
structed atop the mesa, were followed — over a span of 
centuries — by the immense structures of coursed 
masonry built along the walls of rugged canyons. 

The dwellings remained undisturbed until December 
1888, when two cowboys chasing strays came upon 
"Cliff Palace" — the largest cliff dwelling in the United 
States. Constructed in a cave that is 325 feet long, 90 
feet deep, and 60 feet high, Cliff Palace contains more 
than 200 rooms. 

Ransacked for years by pothunters, Mesa Verde's 
ancient apartments became a national park in 1906. 


Itl :ai)in(;sbvpl\ci: 

ban design, architecture, and public art are the sub- 
ts of a vast literature. Anyone seeking a fresh view- 
nt on his city, or on ways that places can be art, may 
ifit from reading such fundamental texts as Edmund 
con's Design of Cities, Jane Jacobs' The Death and 
e of Great American Cities, Kevin Lynch's The Image 
the City and A Theory of Good City Form, Lewis 
imford's The Culture of Cities, or Paul Spreiregen's 
ban Design: The Architecture of Towns and Cities. 
irks by earlier writers, such as the 19th-century 
dscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (see Civi- 
ng American Cities: A Selection of Frederick Law 
nsted's Writings on American Landscapes, edited by 
J. Sutton), or Leon Battista Alberti (his Ten Books on 
•hitecture, published in 1485, suggests that the city 
lould by no means be either so big as to look empty, 
• so little as to be crowded," and offers practical 
/ice on the making of squares and on other subjects), 
1 have as much to tell us as the latest issue of a con- 
iporary professional journal. For a highly personal, 
i witty view of the ills of 20th-century architecture, 
n to Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House. A 
ective list of other useful books and articles follows: 

ardsley, John. Art in Public Places: A Survey of Com- 
munity Sponsored Projects Supported by the National 
Endowment for the Arts. Andy Leon Harney, ed. 
Washington, DC: Partners for Livable Places, 1981. 
;ming, Ronald Lee and Renata von Tscharner. Place 
Makers: Public Art That Tells You Where You Are. New 
York: Hastings House, 1981. 

sen, Kevin W. , ed. The City as a Stage: Strategies for 
the Arts in Urban Economics . Washington, DC: Part- 
ners for Livable Places, 1983. 

ndbook of Architectural Design Competitions. Wash- 
ington, DC: American Institute of Architects, 1981. 
ich, Kevin. "The Immature Arts of City Design." 
Places 1 (Spring 1984): 10-21. 

tional Endowment for the Arts. Design Competition 
Manual. Cambridge: Vision, The Center for Envi- 
ronmental Design and Education, 1980. 
*e, Clint and Penelope Cuff. The Public Sector 
Designs. Washington, DC: Partners for Livable 
Places, 1984. 

Battery Park City 

Pelli, Cesar and Nancy Rosen. "The Chemistry of Col- 
laboration: An Architect's View." In Insights/On 
Sites, edited by Stacy Paleologos Harris. Washing- 
ton, DC: Partners for Livable Places, 1984. 

Tomkins, Calvin. "The Art World: Perception at All 
Levels." The New Yorker, 3 December 1984. 


"The Livable City? — Surging Growth Confronts Bos- 
ton's Legacy." The Boston Globe, 1 1 November 1984. 

A Look at Architecture: Columbus, Indiana. Columbus 

Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc., 1984. 

Brown, Patricia Leigh. "Designs on Miami: The Young 
Partners of Arquitectonica Have a Blueprint for the 
City of the Future." Esquire, December 1984. 


"Center City Profile." Design Quarterly 125, Walker 

Art Center, 1984. 
New York 

Wiseman, Carter. "High Rise, Hard Sell: Now, 
'Designer' Skyscrapers." New York, 11 March 1985. 

Slovic, David and Ligia Rave. "Building of the Month 
Awards: Philadelphia." Places 1 (Spring 1984): 

San Francisco 

Downtown: Proposal as Adopted by the City Plan- 
ning Commission as a Part of the Master Plan, 
November 29, 1984. San Francisco Department of 
City Planning. 

Santa Fe 

Design & Preservation in Santa Fe: A Pluralistic 
Approach. Planning Department, City of Santa Fe, 
January 1977. 


Andrews, Richard. "Artists and the Visual Definition 
of Cities: The Experience of Seattle." In Insights/On 
Sites, edited by Stacy Paleologos Harris. Washing- 
ton, DC: Partners for Livable Places, 1984. 

Artwork Network — A Planning Study for Seattle: Art in 
the Civic Context. Seattle Arts Commission, 1984. 

Tomkins, Calvin. "The Art World: Perception at All 
Levels." The New Yorker, 3 December 1984. 




front cover, top left: David Meunch 

top right: Norman McGrath 

bottom: Miho 

back cover, top: Miho 

bottom: Robert Kristofik 

14. Miho 

15. top: Steve Rosenthal 

middle, left: John Sherman (fIStop Pictures) 
middle, right: Clyde H . Smith (fIStop Pictures) 
bottom: Courtesy: The Townscape Institute 
16- 17. Miho 

18 . Norman McGrath 

19. top: Norman McGrath 
middle: Miho 

bottom: Charles Adler 

20 . Steve Rosenthal 

21 . top: Milton Glaser, Inc . 
bottom: Miho 

22 . Cesar Pelli & Associates 

23 . Seattle Arts Commission 

24 . Jack Mackie 

25. Miho 

26. Miho 

27. Miho 

28. Miho 

29. top: Miho 

middle: Plaza Merchants Association 
bottom: Miho 

30 . National Trust for Historic Preservation 

31 . Miho 

32 . California Historical Society 

33 . Miho 

34 . top: Edgar L . Obma, 

The Frank Lloyd Wright Memorial 

bottom: Miho 

3 7. Miho 

39 . James E . Graham 

41 . Mark Cohn 

42-43 . City of Breckenridge 

44 . top: Courtesy: Barker Rinker Seacat 
bottom: Howard N . Kaplan 

45. Miho 

46 . Steve Rosenthal 

47. Courtesy: The Boston Athenaeum 
50. Miho 

52-53 . Marvin Rand 

55-56 . Los Angeles County 

58. top, middle: Los Angeles County 
bottom: Diane Jackson 

59. Los Angeles County 

60 . Balthazar Korab 

61 . Ike, Beverly 

62 . Balthazar Korab 

63 . Balthazar Korab 

66 . Rockefeller Center 

67 . Sepp Seitz (Woodfin Camp) 

68 . left: Sepp Seitz (Woodfin Camp) 
right: Miho 

69. John Wienrich; courtesy Rockefeller Cente, 

70. Harold Corsini, Western Pennsylvania Cot 

71 . Miho 

72 . Dennis Reeder 

73 . top: Dennis Reeder 

middle: Craig Aurness (Woodfin Camp) 
bottom: Miho 

74 . top: Roloc Color Slides 

bottom: Courtesy: The Townscape Institute 

75. top: Miho 

Roloc Color Slides 
bottom: Miho 
76-77. Miho 

78 . Plaza Merchants Association 

79. top: Plaza Merchants Association 
bottom: J .C . Nichols Company 
80-81 . F. Harlan Hambright 

82 . Robert Llewellyn 

83 . top: Robert Llewellyn 
84-85 . Michael Bruce 

86. N .Y. Convention and Visitors Bureau 

87. Sepp Seitz (Woodfin Camp) 
88-89 . Robert Kristofik 
90-91 . David Meunch